Arena: Howard must battle for US job
By Simon Fudge
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Howard has been a revelation since joining The Red Devils from Major League Soccer side New York/New Jersey MetroStars last summer, having grabbed the number one jersey at Old Trafford with both arms.
Despite his success with the Premiership champions so far, it was still not good enough to earn a start on Wednesday evening when the US faced Holland in a friendly at The Amsterdam ArenA.
Arena played Tottenham Hotspur keeper Kasey Keller in the 1-0 defeat to the Dutch, leaving Howard to watch the friendly from the bench.
With Blackburn Rovers custodian Brad Friedel also in the frame with the American squad, Arena says Howard will have to be patient with regard to establishing himself as US number one.
"Tim is doing magnificently at Manchester United and he's clearly pushing the other two keepers in the squad," revealed Arena.
"But all things being equal, I respect the veteran keeper. Kasey has done a lot for our team and I recognise that.
"Tim needs to be patient and his time will come. He has to fight for his place - and that's only right - but he shouldn't get downhearted. He has a bright future with the national team.
"We have three great keepers and for a national team coach, it's a great problem to have but also a difficult one.
"We need to look at the short-term - having a team that can qualify for the World Cup - and long-term.
"In 2006, Brad and Kasey will be 35 or 36, while Tim Howard is only 24 at the moment."
Meanwhile, England captain David Beckham believes Nicky Butt's lack of playing time at United should not jeopardise his place for Euro 2004.
Butt has been on the fringes of Sir Alex Ferguson's plans this season but has still been given a regular role in Sven Goran Eriksson's squad.
Despite seeing a lack of action with United, Beckham thinks that should not be held against his former Old Trafford team-mate.
"Nicky is a world-class player and he can play in any team," said Beckham.
"The fact that he isn't playing every week shouldn't be a problem come the summer.
"He showed that it wasn't against Portugal. He has not had too many games this season, but his fitness level is excellent and that is one of the good things about being at Manchester United.
"You are always kept match fit and he proved that on Wednesday."